Mari Snyder Molds, Implements Marriott’s Social Responsibility Strategy

Name: Mari L. Snyder

Title: Vice President Social Responsibility & Community Engagement

Organization: Marriott International, Inc.

Years with Marriott International: 12 years

Years with current title: 4 years

Primary responsibilities: Responsible for developing Marriott’s social responsibility strategy and its global implementation.

Organization’s most significant environment-related accomplishment so far: “The scope of our work beyond the hotel’s doors [in the Juma Reserve in the state of Amazonas, Brazil and in Southwest China].”

Organization’s most significant environment-related challenge: “Helping to create an industry standard for measuring carbon—delivering a formula that all of the industry will abide by.”

BETHESDA, MD.—In her role as vice president Social Responsibility & Community Engagement for Marriott International, Mari Snyder says “strategy development” is the favorite part of her job. In her four years in her current role, Snyder has had a lot to strategize about, as Marriott has not been shy about setting aggressive goals when it comes to environmental and social responsibility.

Marriott, for example, has a goal of reducing its hotels’ water and energy consumption by 25 percent by 2017. Using 2007 as the baseline for improvement, Marriott has already cut energy consumption by 20 percent and water usage by 18.9 percent. The company has also reduced the volume of waste it sends to landfill by 29.2 percent. Marriott has more Energy Star certified hotels than any other chain and has a goal of 300 LEED certified hotels by 2015.

One of the reasons for Marriott’s environmental successes is its Global Green Council, a group Snyder helped to establish in 2007. The Council currently consists of a dozen officers from around the world. They meet at least three times a year with the goal, Snyder says, of looking at what the company’s environmental opportunities and risks are.

Commitment to Southwest China

In May 2010, Marriott launched “Nobility of Nature,” a $500,000 commitment to help protect the source of fresh water for more than 2 billion people in Asia. Located in the mountains of Southwest China, the program helps rural communities develop sustainable businesses, such as mushroom farming and honey production, which reduce erosion and sedimentation and improve water quality downstream. Snyder says she recently visited that area of China.

“We’re making an investment in a local community,” Snyder says. “We have created honeybee farming in two communities. We are actually selling that honeybee honey in our hotels.”

While acting as a generalist, she says, when it comes to sustainability, Snyder is also responsible for growing the company’s NGO partnerships and stakeholder engagement initiatives around the world. She manages corporate contributions and associate engagement and volunteerism programs and reports social responsibility and sustainability results. In 2010, Marriott’s charitable contributions totaled $34.6 million from donations of cash, in-kind and volunteer time. Marriott last published its complete sustainability report in summer 2010. This past summer an update was published. Snyder says the next complete report will be published in June 2012.

More Than 70 Business Councils

Snyder says what she is most proud of in regard to Marriott is the structure by which the company delivers in areas such as social responsibility, company culture, and support for government initiatives. Marriott has more than 70 Business Councils around the world. The Councils consist of hotel leaders—general managers—who meet to discuss how to deliver value to their local communities as part of Marriott’s Spirit To Serve program. Snyder says the Business Councils have been meeting for more than 20 years.

Every now and then Snyder gets to represent Marriott on Capitol Hill. She has also contributed to the efforts of the Hospitality Sustainable Purchasing Consortium to help establish criteria for creation of a new Hospitality Sustainable Purchasing Index (HSPI). The Index will include measures of corporate social responsibility, environmental and product sustainability. Product categories covered include furnishings, fixtures and equipment (FF&E), and operating supplies and equipment (OS&E).

Advocate for Protection of Children

Snyder is an advocate for the protection of children as part of Marriott’s commitment to human rights.

“This is an important issue for our industry to address,” she says. “It takes place beyond the tourism industry. We have done a lot of work in the last five or six years. We help people understand the issue. We are rolling out training for our associates. There is a root cause of any issue like this—lack of education, a vulnerability, exploitation.”

Prior to working as vice president Social Responsibility & Community Engagement, Snyder worked as director of public relations for some of Marriott’s full-service brands. Before working for Marriott, she worked for M&M/MARS for nine years progressing from sales to sales management, regional operations to national trade development. She is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.

Go to Marriott International for more information.

Article taken from Green Lodging News. Read original version here.

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